According to his manager, Barry Bonds’ swing looks tired. Chasing Babe Ruth may be to blame.
With his homerless drought at seven games, Bonds is expected to be back in the starting lineup when the San Francisco Giants (19-20) continue their three-game series at Minute Maid Park against the Houston Astros (22-17) on Tuesday.
The seven-time NL MVP has not homered in 22 at-bats since May 7 against Philadelphia and remains stuck on 713 career homers—one behind Ruth for second place on the all-time list.
“This thing, it’s like chasing ghosts, you know. I can imagine what Roger Maris went through,” Bonds said before San Francisco’s 10-1 win in the series opener Monday. “Babe Ruth, I think he just kind of hovers over people a lot.”
Alou had a more practical explanation.
“I think Barry’s tired more than anything,” he said.
Playing in a hitter-friendly park, Bonds was back in his customary cleanup spot and went 1-for-3 with a walk and a strikeout on Monday. His RBI double during a five-run third inning ended an 0-for-15 stretch since a seventh-inning single against the Chicago Cubs on May 9.
“I’m accustomed to it,” Bonds said. “I just haven’t been patient with the opportunities that I have. I’m swinging at a lot of pitches that I normally wouldn’t swing at.
“I’m taking more chances than I ever have in my whole entire career. Right now, I just haven’t had that patience to wait it out.”
To try and spur Bonds, Alou moved him up to third in the batting order for two games, but he went 0-for-5 with three walks.
“It really didn’t help anything,” Alou said. “It was not right. It was not comfortable. It was not productive. He’d rather bat fourth. He was approaching the bat rack late. It was kind of unsettling to him.”
While Bonds went homerless Monday, Randy Winn and Pedro Feliz picked up the slack. Winn led the game off with a home run, and Feliz had three hits— including a grand slam—and five RBIs as San Francisco improved to 18-5 all-time at Minute Maid Park.
If Bonds starts Tuesday, he will face Wandy Rodriguez (5-1, 3.02 ERA), who will be looking to remain unbeaten at home when he makes his first career start against San Francisco. The left-hander is 3-0 with a 3.24 ERA in four home starts this season, giving up just two homers in 25 innings in those outings.
But after not allowing a home run in his first three starts, Rodriguez has yielded six in his last five.
Rodriguez earned his second win of the season over the Los Angeles Dodgers and helped Houston halt a season-high six-game losing streak in his last start. He gave up one run and four hits over 6 2-3 innings on Thursday in the Astros’ 4-2 win.
“It was very important,” Rodriguez said. “This motivates us now to get out of this rut.”
Veteran Jamey Wright (3-3, 4.28) looks for his first career win over the Astros when he takes the mound for the Giants on Tuesday.
The right-hander is 0-12 with a 7.35 ERA in 17 appearances, including 16 starts, against the Astros. Seven of those losses have come in Houston, including five at Minute Maid Park.
Wright also will try to post back-to-back wins for the first time since April 8-14. He snapped a personal three-start losing streak when he gave up two runs and five hits over 7 1-3 innings Thursday in a 9-3 win over the Cubs.
“I got guys behind me all the way, and that’s a good feeling,” said Wright, who had allowed 17 runs in 19 1-3 innings during his losing streak.
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